Reconciliation Week Chapel
National Reconciliation Week runs each year from Thursday, 27 May to Thursday, 3 June. On Thursday, our First Nations girls shared truth, history, story and culture with the Middle and Senior Years community in our Chapel Service. The girls highlighted the five dimensions of Reconciliation, and the goals and actions we are to take to further develop our Reconciliation Action Plan and enhance our cultural understanding and awareness. Reconciliation begins with truth-telling and then must be followed by action in the areas of Race Relations, Equality and Equity, Institutional Integrity, Historical Acceptance and Unity. Together we must continue the progress to a reconciled and healed Australia.
Year 12 student, Anna Dingley shared a powerful reflection on what Reconciliation means for her as a Torres Strait Islander woman.
Blak. B L A K. Yes BLAK. The majority of you may think that I don’t know how to spell, or that I am missing the C. Well from an indigenous perspective we see the letter C as a negative stigma for colonisation, we remove it so we can reclaim our historical view and representation of who we are as first Australians. Who we are, as individuals that have yearned the feeling and emotional comfort for acceptance, possession and equality in our own country. Our individuality as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders hold so much power. So much power that many don’t realise how much radiance we sweep across our nation despite what some may think.
From our fine-grained coastlines to the beautiful chromatic sand dunes. Our stories are gritted within the roots of Australia and are expressed in the palm of our hands by our elders through songs, dance and paintings. They make us who we are, they pass on knowledge and our history, so we can preserve it. Our ancestry runs deep, through our fingertips, channelling ourselves even those who haven’t had the chance to channel. Our voices are the impact of the fight our ancestors have fought. Each and every one of you indigenous girls in this room are a recollection and a living example of an ancestral warrior. Every single girl in this room is a living example of 60,000 years of thriving culture.
This brings us to the question…‘What does Reconciliation mean?’
What does it really mean?
I see it as a 14 letter word, that holds the capability to mend people, communities and our nation together. Every day I observe the achievements of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, not only nationally but right here, in front of me. This is an achievement. Here, Today, to have the opportunity to connect with our wider community and to educate and reconcile with each other. We need to see it as a journey for both Indigenous and non-indigenous to walk hand in hand, to listen to our songs, watch our dance, live through our art and hear our stories. Reconciling is to understand our First Nations mistreatment in regards to our dispossession, persecution and oppression that was and the current ongoing inequalities that we as the young faces of Australia are shackled with every day.
So when you hear the word ‘Reconciliation’. What do you think? Do you think of Truth? Do you think of Justice? Healing? And reparation? Or can we see it as our 14 letter word that can mend us together as a nation? A reminder to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Girls. Understand that you as young individuals are not another number or statistic in Australia but your own living example of an ancestral warrior.
We were privileged to be able to display ‘River Dreaming’, stunning artwork by acclaimed artist Cheryl Moggs from the Bigambul Nation as a backdrop for our reflection and prayers.
The Service concluded with the following prayer from the Wontulp Bi-Buya Indigenous Theology Working Group written on 13 March 1997.
God of Love,
You are the creator of this land and of all good things.
We acknowledge the pain and shame of our history
and the suffering of our peoples – especially the grief of those who were taken
as children from their homes and families,
taken from all they knew and loved.
We ask your forgiveness.
We thank you for the survival of Indigenous cultures.
Our hope is in you because you gave your son Jesus to reconcile the world to you.
We pray for your strength and grace to forgive, accept and love one another as you love, forgive and accept us.
Give us the courage to acknowledge the realities of our history
so that we may build a better future for our nation.
Teach us to respect all cultures.
Teach us to care for our land and waters.
Help us to share justly the resources of this land.
Help us to bring about spiritual and social change
to improve the quality of life for all groups in our communities,
especially the disadvantaged.
Help young people to find true dignity and self-esteem in the ways of your Spirit.
May your power and love be the foundations on which we build our families,
our communities and our nation.
We pray through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Many blessings for your weekend
The Rev’d Sharon Mitchell
Click here to view the gallery.